The fifth edition of the Mahindra Kabira Festival will take place between November 26–28, 2021. Only fully-vaccinated people will be able to watch this cultural extravaganza.
The ghats of Varanasi are set to witness a different kind of symphony and fervour. Mahindra Kabira Festival is back after a year of no show to celebrate the wisdom of the 15th century mystic and poet Kabir with music, literature and discourse.
The three-day extravaganza promises a treat to cultural enthusiasts in the form of classical and folk music performances, talks, live-art demonstrations, boat rides, local food journeys and the Ganga aarti experience. It will also feature performances of several acclaimed artists. Some of them include folk singer Malini Awasthi; Indian classical vocalists Kalapini Komkali; classical vocalist Nirali Kartik; folk poet Jumme Khan; renowned santoor player Divyansh Harshit Srivastava; Indian sitar maestro Purbayan Chatterjee and Malayalam playback singer Gayatri Asokan.
Besides these, Carnatic vocal and violin duo Ranjani Gayatri; accomplished Dastango and the only artist of his kind to introduce the art forms of Muharram (Soz-Khwani) Askari Naqvi; well-known Hindustani classical musician from the Benares Gharana Pandit Anoop Misra; musician and singer Chinmayi Tripathi; multi-instrumentalist, composer-producer Joell Mukherjii and Delhi-based pianist, composer and producer Anirudh Varma will also set the stage on fire.
Talking about his performance, Jumme Khan says, “I will be reciting Kabir Das’ devotional songs. As an artist, I feel that Kabir’s bhajans have thrill and I like singing such songs. That is why I choose to perform at this festival.”
The three-day event also includes performances of Raman Iyer, a musician, storyteller, author and filmmaker and Umesh Kabir, an educator, spiritual mentor and researcher of theology. Artists from The Aahvaan Project will present collaborative fusions following Kabir’s ideas.
Santoor player Divyansh Harshit Srivastava will play raga bairagi bhairav on November 27 at 6:30 am. Talking about his morning raga performance and its relevance at this festival, Divyansh says, “Raga bairagi bhairav is a very meditative raga and close to the sound of Lord Shiva. Since we are performing in Varanasi, which is a place of Lord Shiva, I think this raga will create positive and meditative atmosphere at the banks of River Ganga early in the morning.”
Divyansh’s recital is not directly connected to Kabir but to the latter’s teachings. “Since Kabir’s teachings promote peace, I will try to create peace and meditation through my music. A tabla player and pakhavaj player will accompany me. Pakhavaj is a naad creating sound. This combination of santoor and pakhavaj will sooth listeners’ ears and they will be able to feel meditative. I will try to give whatever I have learnt from my gurus in this performance to match my music with Kabir’s philosophy on peace and tranquillity,” he explains.
He is not the only artist to interpret Kabir’s philosophy through his art. A modern version of well-known theatre personality, actor and cultural activist MK Raina’s all-time hit play ‘Kabira Khada Bazaar Mein’, written by Bhisham Sahni will also create modern reinterpretations based on Kabir's poetry.
Similarly, artist Umesh Kabir in his talk will familiarise people about Kabir’s philosophy. Explaining about his performance, Umesh says, “On 27 November, I will perform a literature session based on Kabir’s life and philosophy. The talk will highlight the importance of his philosophy and its concept. I would be explaining how Kabir started his life and how people can inculcate these qualities in their lives.”
Jay Shah, Vice President, Head – Cultural Outreach, Mahindra Group, describes this year's festival as new beginnings in a changed world. "Our return emphasises resilience and the spirit of Rise, both intrinsic to us at the Mahindra Group. We are delighted to bring back the joy of live performances to Varanasi - a city that is known for its artistry and ancient wisdom - the customary home of Mahindra Kabira,” he says.
Mahindra Kabira Festival is a brainchild of the Mahindra Group. It celebrates Kabir and the inherent wisdom of his verses through varied programme offerings.